A hippopotamus for Mick Jagger, an annelid for Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister, a woodlouse for the band Metallica -- fossils named after rock stars can be seen at Frankfurt's Senckenberg Natural History Museum starting this weekend.

At Friday's preview, a new species was added, named after the Frankfurt trash metal band Tankard, found near Mainz.

The Rock Fossils exhibition has been touring Europe since 2013.

After a break due to corona, it can now be seen in Frankfurt until September 4th.

The exhibition then travels on to Denmark, where the concept originated, as the paleontologist and self-confessed headbanger Achim Reisdorf reported.

"A lot of scientists are rock fans," he says, "and a lot of metal fans are interested in science."

In 1971, a rock-loving scientist was the first to name newly discovered species after rock stars, explains Reisdorf.

The honorees were Frank Zappa and Mick Jagger, both of whom have now received this honor four times.

According to Reisdorf, around 100 families, genera or species are now named after musicians, songs, bands or festivals - such as the sea reptile the "Wacken ichthyo".

Metallica isopod

In the exhibition there are models of the fossils in showcases on loudspeakers and cases for band equipment.

On the wall next to it are photos of the musicians and headphones through which you can listen to their music.

14 stations have been set up in Frankfurt.

One is dedicated to Greg Graffin, the founder of the band Bad Religion, who is himself an evolutionary biologist.

"Qiliania graffini" was named after him - a bird that still had teeth.

For the deep-sea researcher Torben Riehl from Senckenberg, "Rock Fossils" is "a masterpiece of science communication".

In 2020 he himself named an isopod after his favorite band Metallica.

He found the name doubly appropriate, he reported on Friday: On the one hand, "Macrostylis metallicola" lives in metal deposits on the seabed;

on the other hand, Metallica already addressed environmental destruction in a song in the 1980s.

The tradition of scientific naming goes back to Carl von Linné (1707-1778).

To this day, new animals and plants are named after his "Systema Naturae" with a two-part name for genus (uppercase) and species (lowercase).

Most people look for a name that expresses the special nature of this species, explains Riehl.

The discoverer can also combine this with an honor and dedicate the species to someone special.

"For the next 30 million years"

The members of the Frankfurt trash metal band Tankard felt honored on Friday.

An extinct species of brittle stars - relatives of sea stars - was named after them: "Ophiura tankardi".

It was discovered in sediments during a geothermal well in Nierstein near Mainz.

The find is around 30 million years old.

"At first we were very incredulous," confessed Tankard singer Andreas Geremia.

He first thought "of an early April Fool's joke".

On Friday, the band, who are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, held their brittle star in their hands and beamed for the cameras.

"It's a great honor for us," said the frontman, inviting the entire "Rock Fossils" team "for the next 30 million years" to every Tankard concert worldwide.

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